When to Consider Back Surgery

Out of the nearly 60 million Americans who experience back pain, only five percent will need surgery. While this is good news if you’re hoping to avoid surgery for relief of your back or neck pain, there are times when it’s best to at least speak with a Beverly Hills spine surgeon about your condition to understand any and all treatment options. If you’re debating seeing a surgeon, consider the following.

Give It Three Months

You can probably hold off seeing a spine surgeon for at least three months from the time you first started experiencing back pain. During this initial period, your doctor is likely to recommend conservative treatments (muscle relaxants, hot/cold applications, NSAIDs, epidural injections, physical therapy). If such remedies aren’t working after three months, then it’s time to schedule an initial consultation with a spine surgeon.

What’s the Source of the Pain?

Back pain, in general, can be hard to diagnose with great accuracy. Using disc herniation as an example, surgery is only considered when disc material is pressing on nerves. Surgeons also consider factors such as whether or not there’s significant collapse of the disc space at the site of the herniation and how much wear and tear has occurred.

Do You Have a Progressive Spinal Condition?

If you have a progressive condition like osteoporosis, you may respond well to initial treatment. However, it’s not unusual to reach a point when non-surgical spinal treatments no longer provide meaningful relief. Since there’s not a whole lot of rhyme or reason with progressive spinal conditions (some patients experience little to no discomfort as conditions advance while others experience a dramatic loss of quality of life), your condition should be monitored periodically to determine appropriate treatment options.

The trend in back and neck pain treatment today is to exhaust all non-surgical options before resorting to surgery. That said, seeing a spine surgeon isn’t the same as committing to surgery. Scheduling an appointment with a surgeon when conservative treatments aren’t doing much to relieve your pain can help you determine if there is a procedure that might offer more substantial relief.

If conservative methods aren’t providing relief, call (310) 828-7757 and request and in-person consultation with Dr. Hyun Bae, Medical Director at The Spine Institute in Los Angeles. Dr. Bae can discuss unexplored treatment options that may help you find lasting relief and preserve your overall quality of life.